Posted by: travelrat | November 22, 2018

Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal 2

Agra: 22nd September 2018

‘A teardrop on the cheek of eternity’ (Rabinanath Tagore)

‘It is the embodiment of all things pure’ (Rudyard Kipling)

Look at any book, or even advertisements offering trips to India, they’ll almost always contain a picture of the Taj Mahal. If you try googling ‘Taj Mahal’, you’ll probably be greeted with Indian restaurants all over the world with that name, before you come across any reference to the building itself. But, familiar as the image of the building is, you have to go there to behold its true grandeur.

It was built at the orders of Shah Jahan, who, when his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal died in childbirth in 1631, decreed that this vast mausoleum be built in her memory. It’s absolutely symmetrical, so it looks the same whichever angle you photograph it from.

Even Shah Jahan was overwhelmed by it:

‘It makes the sun and the moon shed tears from their eyes’ he wrote.

There is no truth in the tale that he had the workers blinded, or chopped their hands off, so they couldn’t produce another work like it. There were an estimated 20,000 of them for one thing, and another was that he planned an identical mausoleum for himself on the opposite bank of the Yamuna River. However, just after the foundations were laid, Shah Jahan became ill, and his sons declared him incompetent to rule, and placed him under house arrest in the Agra Fort.

So, the plan never came to fruition, and Shah Jahan’s body lies next to that of Mumtaz.

Taj Mahal 1

But, the foundations remain, and provide an excellent vantage for photographing the Taj at sunrise.

Of course, it’s crowded … that’s only to be expected, for many people regard it as a place of pilgrimage, rather than just a ‘sight to see’. The graves themselves aren’t open to the public, but the cenotaphs above them are. Although photography isn’t allowed there; our guide warned us ‘… you will see people taking pictures, but they’re Indians, and don’t mind getting whacked by the policeman’. Not that we saw any whacking, but the policemen had powerful whistles, and offenders got a severe whistling-at!!

Our guide had arranged for a professional photographer to attend our group … everyone wants to be photographed by the Taj Mahal. Even Princess Diana … although, unlike her, we didn’t have the place to ourselves!

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